Cashmere, or Kashmir, a native state embracing an irregular-shaped mountainous region, part of the Himalayan system, in the extreme north of India. Much of it is mere desert, but within its borders are included the valleys of many snow-fed streams. Chief among these' is the beautiful valley of the Upper Jhelum at Srinagar - 'the Vale of Cashmere' of Moore's Lalla Rookh. It extends for about 120 miles from NW. to SE., with a mean breadth of 75 miles, at a distance of 130 miles by road from Rawal Pindi, in the Punjab. The flat part of the valley is not more than 80 miles long by 20 wide, with a variable elevation above sea-level of from 5000 to 7000 feet. In it are two lakes, the Dul and the Wulur. Nothing can well exceed the fertile beauty of this valley, almost surrounded as it is by snow-capped mountains, whose lower spurs descend gently in terraced slopes. These terraces are abundantly irrigated for the purpose of rice cultivation, rice being the staple crop throughout Cashmere. On the margins of the lakes, and scattered through the whole extent of the valley, are magnificent groves of chinar or plane-trees, here and there laid out with great regularity and taste to form gardens and country-seats which used to be the favourite resorts of the Mogul emperors two centuries ago. Other features of Cashmere are its avenues of poplars, and the floating-gardens of the lakes. Srinagar is a quaint and picturesque old town, built almost entirely of wood, said to have been founded at the beginning of the 6th century. Its industries are chiefly shawl-weaving and lacquer-work, with silver and copper work. The restrictions formerly placed on the residence of Europeans in Cashmere territory have been modified, and Cashmere is now visited by thousands of Europeans during the hot months of the year, a well-known summer station being Gulmerg, which is higher and cooler than Srinagar. Good roads have been made, and a railway is projected. The natural productiveness of the valleys is remarkable. Fruit of almost every description is found nearly wild in the lower valleys, and the vine is now largely cultivated for the manufacture of wine. Notwithstanding this fertility and the general cheapness of food-supply, Cashmere is occasionally subject to the scourge of famine. Much has been written about the fine physique of the Cashmere men and the beauty of Cashmere women, but they are really a corrupt and degraded race.
Cashmere was conquered by Akbar in 1586, and became part of the Mogul empire. It was overrun by the Sikhs in 1819. Ghulab Singh, the feudatory of the Sikhs, made a treaty with Britain in 1846, by which he recognised British supremacy. In 1887 a land settlement (under pressure from the Indian government) abolished serfdom; trade greatly increased. The population of Cashmere with its dependencies (Ladakh, Jamu, Gilgit, Chitral, etc.) was in 1901 close on 3,000,000, Mohammedans, Buddhists, and Hindus, of whom 1,158,000 were in Cashmere proper. Thirteen dialects are spoken; the Kashmiri is very closely related to Sanskrit.
See works by Bellew (1875), Drew (1875), Wakefield (1879), Hinton Knowles (1885-88), E. F. Knight (1893), and A. Durand (1899). Caskets. See Alderney. Casoria, a town of Italy, 6 miles N. of Naples by rail. Pop. 7551.